I am a Christian, a Roman Catholic in that. It has been drilled into our heads, right from the days of our baptism - if I can exaggerate a little there – that it is ‘obligatory’ for me to attend the Mass on Sunday. It is a ‘sin’ to skip a Sunday Mass.
Some how, I have refused to buy that view, and, have been attending the Sunday Mass not because it is made ‘obligatory’ by the Church, nor with a fear of committing a ‘sin’, and certainly not with a fear of being socially out casted.
I learnt it from Jesus Christ, Himself!
Jesus is my real hero. I try to live my life, constantly, keeping His teachings and life in mind. It is tough… It is challenging. Still, it is worth it. My simplicity has come from Him; my passion has come from Him; my beliefs in forgiveness, compassion, refrain from judging others, reconciliation, peace have come from Him. Even in my anger, I imitate Jesus. Jesus was a loving and compassionate soul… But, He has shown incredible amount of anger when it came to the hypocrites… “You hypocrites… you children of vipers… It is far better for you to tie a millstone around your neck and throw yourself in the sea.” He has stormed in to the temple, ransacked the tables of those traders, whipped them and thrown them out of the temple shouting - “You have turned my Father’s house into a den of thieves.”
This is Jesus… who lived in this world, two thousand years ago, as I do, today. He was a mortal and had the same feelings that I have, now.
To me, it has always been a challenge to be a Christian. Leave alone the Mass on Sunday, even if I attend the Mass every morning, all my life, I don’t think, I will own that feeling of being a true Christian. Living how Christ lived – perhaps, even to a small extent – would provide me that feeling.
After a long time, I attended the Mass on last Sunday. I had gone there with a very thirsty heart. I was with Him all through the Mass… and, He touched me… He answered my prayers. I felt l was a Christ’s follower. A Christian.
I went today, too. This morning, as my wife and I came out of our lift to go to the church, we saw a couple of men who have been in confrontation with the Society, causing all sorts of trouble and trauma to some of us, to me particularly. “See your friends are sitting there,” my wife taunted me. “They must be hatching a new conspiracy.”
“May God bless them, darling,” I smiled at my wife, “We are going to the church, for a Mass.”
I am very angry at these men. So angry. Still, I can’t hate them. I hope, they will change their ways… I hope, there will be peace again. I pray.
In the church, there was some time for the Mass to start. In the profound silence, the guitarist of the choir was gently playing some tunes of popular hymns. I kept my head down, eyes closed and prayed, “Lord, have mercy on me… make me feel worthy of your love.” Then, I remembered those whom my wife had called - “Your friends”. I cried, “Lord, have mercy on them…”
Towards the end of the Mass, there is this moment when we turn to each other and exchange peace. We fold our hands, wear a smile on our face and say to each other, “Peace be with you.” I did that. I also, in my heart, turned to my tormentors – each one of them – and said, “Peace be with you, my friends.”
My wife must not have heard that. But, I am certain, my Lord, Jesus Christ, must have.
“The Mass is over… Go in peace,” the priest said. These are the last words, at a Mass. We are supposed to tuck those words in our souls and return home. I did feel a fresh meaning in those words, this morning… yes, after a very, very long time. I felt I was a Christian.
Outside the church, I met one of my students. She was surprised to see me as I did not attend Mass every Sunday as she did. “Miss Mass on Sundays, sir?” she said with loving mischief, “A sinner!”
“I am, Jenifer,” I confessed patting her head, “but, a good one.”